As I did last season I will be following the New Orleans Pelicans in a number of power rankings throughout the season. Our own SB Nation (yet to release a 2015-16 version), NBA.com, ESPN, Yahoo! Sports (no 2015-16 version so far), CBS Sports, and Sports Illustrated (still no rankings) will all be included. These rankings are usually released every Monday but Marc Stein (for ESPN) and Matt Moore (for CBS Sports) both felt exceptionally generous this week and got started early. We also have an offseason ranking update from NBA.com from late July and very little has changed around the league in the past two months.
Importantly, I would like to compare these rankings to where the Pelicans were ranked just 12 months ago. As a fan and blogger dug into covering the team this is an attempt at perspective. Last year the Pelicans were ranked 17th or lower by everyone but Marc Spears for Yahoo! Sports (13th) before the season tipped off. Thus far no one has ranked New Orleans lower than 11th and two put the Pels into the top ten. Alvin Gentry taking much better advantage of Anthony Davis is a common theme below.
Last Year (Oct, 2014): 18 - This July: 8
Can they keep their opponents out of the paint? It's still rather amazing that a team with Omer Asik and Anthony Davis ranked 22nd defensively and allowed the most shots in the restricted area. Gentry believes that improvement starts on the perimeter, where it will be on Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans to stay in front of the ball ... and also get it to Davis more often on the other end.
Last Year (Oct, 2014): 17 - This Week: 8
Something tells me the Pels will enjoy looking at the Power Rankings every Monday more than the standings. Anthony Davis and the leaps at both ends widely expected under new coach Alvin Gentry mean New Orleans is likely to spend lots of time in our top 10 even if it can't move up much from No. 8 in the West.
Last Year (July, 2014): 20- This Week: 11
"If they're healthy" is basically the Pelicans' preseason ticket marketing slogan at this point. If they can't get healthy this year, they might just need to accept that the basketball gods don't want this core together. They jump up a few spots from our offseason rankings due to how well Alvin Gentry seems to have connected with the team, and the opportunity for them to substantially improve in key areas. In conclusion, Anthony Davis is a radioactive-fire breathing winged dragon-man that's going to start shooting 3's. So that's awesome.